In the essay, Shame by Dick Gregory the author talks about the childhood experiences as a black child, and how the author struggled to be like the other children at school. The author talks of how he is ignored by his peers because he is poor, black and has no father. In the essay, I Became Her Target by Roger Wilkins the author talks about his experiences as a black student, where discrimination is the order of the day. The author is the only black child in an upper-class school with white kids. The author explains how he deals with racism after they moved to a community full of whites. Both authors share a similarity in that they had to deal with racism from their peers and teachers, but they also differ in many different ways.
First, Gregory and Wilkins differ in the way they feel different towards their peers in class. In Shame the author has a terrible experience in school. He is placed at a desk labeled idiot at the back of the class. The author talks of how he tried to draw attention from other students by poking them and making noise. The teacher also discriminated him, in that at one instance the teacher skips him when they inquire the amount of money their fathers are going to donate for the Community Chest. The teacher goes ahead and tells the class that everyone knows that he has no father which made him shameful. On the other hand, in I Became Her Target, the author feels important when he receives attention from one of the teachers. The author is given a chance to answer questions in class. The author also experiences an incident in class when the teacher throws an eraser at him, which gives him the nickname Deadeye Bean which helps him in making new friends. He finally able to mingle with his peers and he is fully accepted by his classmates.
Secondly, the experiences with the teachers are different for both Gregory and Wilkins. As for Gregory, seems sad and resentful towards his teacher simply because the teacher assumed Gregory was stupid and a troublemaker instead of trying to understand why he was behaving the way he did. Gregory needed the approval of his teacher so badly which he never got. This is seen during the incident of the Community Chest. Gregory also had a great thrill when he was chosen by the teacher to clean the blackboard. This shows how much Gregory wanted the teacher to recognize him. As for Wilkins, he was lucky that his teacher gave him his approval. Wilkins, on the other hand, receives approval and attention from one of the teachers. He is allowed to answer questions by the teacher, and this boosts his confidence and even helps him to mingle with his friends.
Also, Gregory uses actual dialogue in his narration. For example, he uses the exact wordings by Helene, himself and the teacher. In this type of narration, the reader can experience the dialogue other than just getting a summary of the conversations. Wilkins, on the other hand, uses narration, though in his style description is intertwined throughout the play. Wilkins primarily tells the story of his life after they moved to Grand Rapids. He also describes the events that took place in the new neighborhood. Furthermore, Gregory and Wilkins differ in the use of writing styles to keep the essay smooth. Gregory uses metaphors and irony in his essay. For example, he says that his home though the only life that existed was that of poverty, there were no instances of shame and hatred. Wilkins, on the other hand, uses time signals to clarify relationships between events. This transitional signal helps in moving the essay smoothly.
In summary, despite the many differences in the writing styles, the two authors can bring out the picture of how discrimination can affect people, especially the school going children. The essays are developed in such a way, that the reader can connect with the characters.
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